Artificial intelligence ethics guidelines for developers and users: clarifying their content and normative implications

Mark Ryan*, Bernd Carsten Stahl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is clearly illustrate this convergence and the prescriptive recommendations that such documents entail. There is a significant amount of research into the ethical consequences of artificial intelligence (AI). This is reflected by many outputs across academia, policy and the media. Many of these outputs aim to provide guidance to particular stakeholder groups. It has recently been shown that there is a large degree of convergence in terms of the principles upon which these guidance documents are based. Despite this convergence, it is not always clear how these principles are to be translated into practice. Design/methodology/approach: In this paper, the authors move beyond the high-level ethical principles that are common across the AI ethics guidance literature and provide a description of the normative content that is covered by these principles. The outcome is a comprehensive compilation of normative requirements arising from existing guidance documents. This is not only required for a deeper theoretical understanding of AI ethics discussions but also for the creation of practical and implementable guidance for developers and users of AI. Findings: In this paper, the authors therefore provide a detailed explanation of the normative implications of existing AI ethics guidelines but directed towards developers and organisational users of AI. The authors believe that the paper provides the most comprehensive account of ethical requirements in AI currently available, which is of interest not only to the research and policy communities engaged in the topic but also to the user communities that require guidance when developing or deploying AI systems. Originality/value: The authors believe that they have managed to compile the most comprehensive document collecting existing guidance which can guide practical action but will hopefully also support the consolidation of the guidelines landscape. The authors’ findings should also be of academic interest and inspire philosophical research on the consistency and justification of the various normative statements that can be found in the literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-86
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • AI ethics guidelines
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Policymaking for disruptive technologies
  • Recommendations for emerging technologies


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